Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Mad Bomber (1973) Trash Noir

The tipping point. 

"And hes oh, so good,
And hes oh, so fine,
And hes oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind."

You know, after watching a few of the late 60s "sexploitation roughie" Noirs it's almost like they either figured out in The Mad Bomber how to make a sexploitation film that doesn't quite feel like one, or, it's as if society caught up to it and it went mainstream. It's got the sex per se but not the the old level of exploitation. Oh it's got all the same ingredients, i.e., lots of random naked women but it depicts them way less obviously, casually as part of the story. It's not "in your face, look what we can do now," like it was in the mid 60s.

Shots, that in sexploitation seem to linger on forever in The Mad Bomber last just a few seconds. As soon as the Motion Picture Code went out the window the independent's just went overboard at first, like kids running loose in a candy store.

Too bad they couldn't figure out a title. The Mad Bomber aka Geronimo, aka The Police Connection,  or for that matter had acquired a better suited leading man.

 Directed by "Creature Feature director Bert I. Gordon (The Cyclops (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958)Tormented (1960), Empire of the Ants (1977)), Written by Bert I. Gordon (screenplay), Marc Behm (story). Cinematography by Bert I. Gordon, and music by Michel Mention.

Two of the film's leads were better known as staple TV actors. Vince Edwards (Rogue Cop (1954), The Night Holds Terror (1955), The Killing (1956), Murder by Contract (1958), City of Fear (1959), but better known for Ben Casey  TV Series (1961–1966)) as Geronimo Minelli, Chuck Connors (Naked Alibi (1954), Soylent Green (1973) known to all as Lucas McCain from The Rifleman TV Series (1958–1963)) as William Dorn, Neville Brand (Port of New York (1949), D.O.A. (1950), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950), Kansas City Confidential (1952), Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), Cry Terror! (1958)) as George Fromley, Hank Brandt as Blake, Christina Hart as Fromley's victim, Faith Quabius as Martha, Ilona Wilson as Mrs. Fromley, Nancy Honnold as Anne Dorn, Ted Gehring as Police Chief Marc C. Forester, Jeff Burton as Sgt. Gribble, Dee Carroll as Miss Roman and  Paula Mitchell as Shelly the Stripper.

Storyline. Age of Aquarius L.A. The tale of square john William Dorn (Connors). Was living American Dream. Was happy. But seriously uptight. A nitpicker. A nerd. Paranoid. Righteous. Intense. Family man. A walking pressure cooker. Wears a button down Edwardian suit. Wears coke bottle granny glasses. You find out that he's not playing with a full deck from the get go.

We see through the traffic Dorn walking down a street in the City of Angels. A man walking a few yards in front of him crumples up a paper cup and nonchalantly drops it onto the sidewalk. Dorn strides faster, catches up, and accosts him.

William Dorn: You just littered the street.
Pedestrian: But it was empty.
William Dorn: Well, I want you to go back and pick up your trash.
Pedestrian: What?
William Dorn: I said I want you to go back and pick it up.
Pedestrian: Like hell I will.
William Dorn: It's people like you that make our world filthy my friend. You're a pig! Did you hear what I said? Tell me.
Pedestrian: It's people like me that make our world filthy, I'm a pig.
William Dorn: Now, go back and pick up your trash. Put it in your pocket. Now, don't you feel better?
[pedestrian walks off with no reply]

Daughter ODs. His world goes to shit. He goes off his nut. Society's got to pay. He's got issues. With work. The schools. The System. Deserts his wife. Buys a van full of dynamite. Buys clocks. Makes paper bag bombs. Plants bombs. High School, Hotel, Hospital.


William Dorn (Connors)


"Cause hes oh, so good,
And hes oh, so fine,
And hes oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind."

L.A.P.D. Lieutenant Geronimo Minneli (Edwards) is assigned to the case. His chief is breathing down his neck for quick results. But he has no M.O. to go on. The case catches a break when a rape occurs in a storeroom at the same time the "mad bomber" had to pass through it to plant his bomb in the basement. The creepy rapist George Fromley is played by foghorn voiced Nevil Brandt. Fromley's M.O. is to attack a lone women from behind, put tape over her mouth and rip her clothes off. The rapist had to have seen the guy, so the case develops into a city wide hunt for the rapist.

Geronimo Minneli: Let me blanket the city with policewomen just begging to be raped!

This sets up a nice noir montage of mini and mico-mini skirted police women strutting their stuff through sketchy LA hoods to a funkadelic score.


Geronimo Minelli (Edwards)

The films biggest minor fault is probably Edwards, he's no Dirty Harry, he's no contender for seriously rogue cop, so the film comes off as dry police procedural in spots, and you gotta laugh at the antiquated entire room size "Univac-ian" crime computer at the police HQ. It spits out answers on a TV screen.  Edwards just doesn't quite have enough tough guy screen presence to up the material a notch, Eastwood, McQueen, Bronson, or Marvin would have been better choices. Connors pretty much steals the show, after seeing him in countless The Rifleman TV episodes he really is striking playing against type. His tall imposing demeanor combines nicely with the stick up his ass self righteousness, to give us a memorable antagonist. With a strong villain it was imperative to have a strong protagonist.


George Fromely (Brandt)

trying to rape police woman

Neville Brandt is also quite over the top as the rapist Fromley. He's got serious weirdo vibes. His off stalking time hobby is beating the meat to homemade pornography he filmed with his beautiful wife (Ilona Wilson), but she apparently is not enough for the lustful appetite of this sex maniac. Minelli finally snares Fromley and threatens to put a bullet in his brain if he doesn't identify the rapist. After considering that it's better to be alive and ticking than cooling it off in a hole in the ground with your brains blown out, Fromely agrees to cooperate.

George Fromley: The Mad Bombers sick. He should be locked up.

Back in police procedural mode we are treated to an identikit machine sequence that remarkably narrows down, laughably, to an exact likeness of Dorn.

That's him
The film of course continues to go outrageously Noirsville.


tick, tick, tick, tick.....


The film has an eclectic mix of sounds and music, we get a frenetic multiple ticking from an opening bomb making sequence when Dorn selects a cheap windup alarm clock from a cabinet full of them. In another scene with Dorn he listens to Joni Mitchell/Joan Baez/Buffy Sainte-Marie/Judy Collins, etc., etc., "flower power" type, mind numbing, music recorded by his dead daughter which triggers haunting flashbacks while he electric tapes dynamite bundles together. In other slots we get gogo bar dance tunes and the aforementioned Funkadelic sequence.

The film has got some memorable sequences and to be expected goes out with a bang. Screencaps are from the Code Red DVD. Trash Noir lite 8/10

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